There is no better combination in Southern California than dozens of colorful hot air balloons gracing the dawn skies and warm afternoons of sampling fine wines while watching your favorite band in concert.  The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival lights up its 35th Anniversary this June 1-3, 2018, in the pristine setting of the Lake Skinner Recreation Area.

The balloons

A hot air balloon flight during the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival will whisk you over the pristine landscape of Lake Skinner and 14,000 acres of a multi-species reserve. Outside of the preserve rolling hills of vineyards will fill the view – a protected agricultural wine district.

The flight is magical. But what a Festival flight gives you is something you can’t get any other day of the week – a chance to fly with 40 other balloons.  It is a photographer’s dream – the perfect setting for proposals – the ultimate “check” to a bucket list wish.

Balloon flights from the Festival are scheduled for 6:30 a.m. (time approximate, weather permitting) Saturday and Sunday.  Festival guests can catch a flight for $225 which includes admission to the festival, a champagne, juice or water toast, souvenir certificate, a 3-hour adventure, and a 45-60-minute flight. (These flights must be booked in advance online at hotairtours.com or by calling 1-800-965-2122.)

For guests who want to “try” their wings without letting go of terra firma, the Festival offers free tethered rides Saturday and Sunday morning after the launch.  These balloon rides are about 10 minutes long and free, thanks to a sponsorship from Toyota.

Late sleepers and families often enjoy the close-up view that the Friday and Saturday evening balloon glow offers.  This balloon spectacular starts at sunset (approximately 8:30 p.m.) when up to a dozen balloons inflate in the Wine Gardens but remain tethered to the ground.  As the colors fade from the evening sunset, the balloons begin their “glow” by simultaneously igniting the burners.  Placed up against a black velvet sky, the luminous orbs of colorful canopies appear to dance to the beat of selected music.  A crowd favorite, the balloon glow highlight occurs when the entire crowd shouts their plea of “glow” and the entire field alights with color.

The wine

The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival celebrates their 35th anniversary just as the Temecula Valley Wine Country celebrates its 50th.  Up to 20 wineries will be featured at the Festival. (There were only six wineries in the Temecula Valley when the Festival began.) The Festival offers you a variety of ways to discover your favorite wine.  Wine tasting is $2 per taste.  Winemaker reserve packages include a larger wine glass, plus eight 1-ounce tastes. There are only 1,000 of these packages sold. Cost is $50.

For those who want to pair local wines with local cuisines, the Festival offers food pairing sessions. In a private tent, chefs prepare meals on stage while sharing their recipes and secrets.  The four courses are paired with four different Southern California wines chosen for the cuisine.

The concerts

Concerts start at 8:30 pm on Friday, and 3:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can join in for the concerts even if you don’t fly a balloon.

Orange County beach band, Sugar Ray, with multiple feel-good hits will headline Friday’s Beach Party Night at the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival.  Sugar Ray first gained national attention in 1998 with the hit single “Fly” from their “Floored” album. Spearheaded by lead singer Mark McGrath, the band continued to produce a slew of hits including “Every Morning,” “Someday,” “Falls Apart,” “When It’s Over,” and “Under The Sun.”

Co-headlining is the 1990s grunge/rock/pop band The Spin Doctors, best known for hits “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” Their 1992 album “Pocketful of Kryptonite” produced five hit singles for the band, and went triple platinum, eventually selling over five million copies. Hits include “What Time Is It,” “How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me?),” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.”

The Saturday lineup is The Wallflowers, Lifehouse, Fuel, and Hoobastank.

The Wallflowers are best known for the 1996 album “Bringing Down the Horse.” Hit songs include “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache,” “The Difference,” and “Three Marlenas.”   Lead singer Jakob Dylan, is the son of folk-rock legend Bob Dylan.

Lifehouse was founded in 1999 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Jason Wade while he was still in his teens.  Their 2000 debut album “No Name No Face” placed them on the Billboard Top Ten and sold over 15 million records worldwide.  Hit singles include “You and Me,” “First Time,” “Whatever It Takes,” Broken,” “Halfway Gone,” and “Hurricane.”

Fuel celebrates the 20th anniversary of their first studio album “Sunburn” this year.  “Sunburn” catapulted the band to the top of both Rock and Alternative Charts and spawned the hit single “Shimmer.” Fuel is known for the mega-hit “Hemorrhage” from their second studio album “Something Like Human.”

Hoobastank hits the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival’s Saturday lineup having one of the top 100 YouTube Rock videos with “The Reason.”  To date, the video has had over 405 million views. The album by the same name went double platinum and produced the hits “Disappear,” “Same Direction,” and “Out of Control.”

Country Fun Day Sunday will include Justin Moore, Tyler Farr and RaeLynn.

The Wine Stage will offer headliners Kalimba-The Earth Wind & Fire Experience on Friday, The Lao Tizer Band featuring Chieli Menucci and Karen Briggs on Saturday, and Pablo Cruise on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday evenings, after the evening hot air balloon glow, DJ Pasha will lead an EDM After Party at the wine stage until closing.

Additional bands will be featured on the wine garden stage.  The concerts are included in  the general admission ticket price. Reserved seats are available for an additional fee.  Admission is $25 to $45 for adults and $5 for juniors age 6-12.

Sponsored by Riverside County and the City of Temecula, the event is held annually at Lake Skinner Recreation area in Wine Country.  For more information contact the Festival at (951) 676-6713 or visit the website at tvbwf.com.